The Tri-City Dust Devils got down to the business of breaking streaks Saturday night in front of sellout crowd of 3,708 fans at Gesa Stadium.
First and foremost was snapping a five-game losing streak, which the Dust Devils did with an 11-0 Northwest League victory over the Boise Hawks.
To do that, they had to take a lead, something they hadn’t been able to do in the previous five games — a stretch of 45 innings — while losing nine of 10 games.
But nobody was happier than Konner Wade, who earned his first professional victory after losing his first seven decisions. Wade, drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the seventh round out of the University of Arizona, allowed just three hits over five scoreless innings to move into the ‘W’ column.
He also avoided becoming just the third Tri-City pitcher in club history to record eight losses in a season. John Tetuan went 3-8 for the 2004 Dust Devils, while Edwar Cabrera went 1-8 in 2010.
“It was good to get it off my back,” said Wade, who admitted he “felt average” about his start.
But to Tri-City manager Drew Saylor, it was anything but that.
“I’m so happy for him. This was a great team victory,” Saylor said. “It started with consistency in our approach, and Konner gave us a great start.”
Wade (1-7) lowered his season ERA to 4.69, the lowest it has been since a 2.00 mark at the beginning of July after two starts.
The Dust Devils got on the board in the first as Chris O’Dowd started things off with a one-out single and stole two bases to advance to third. Boise starter Michael Wagner then walked the bases loaded with two outs before Wilfredo Rodriguez singled to right center to bring home two runs.
“Wilfredo had a great night,” Saylor said of Rodriguez, who extended his hitting streak to nine games. “He came through with that two-run single.”
Every single Dust Devils starter had at least one of the team’s 16 hits — tying a season high — but a few players stood out on offense.
Rodriguez went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Patrick Valaika also finished 3-for-5 with a two-run double, an RBI triple and a run scored.
“Today looked so different. Everybody was patient and we had a good rhythm at the plate,” Rodriguez said. “Before that, everybody was trying to do too much.
“I was glad we were able to get some run support for (Konner). He’s been pitching pretty well.”
Alec Mehrten, a NWL All-Star, also had three hits. O’Dowd kept up his consistent hitting, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Kyle Von Tungeln had two RBIs and a run scored, and Mike Tauchman barely missed his first pro home run when his line drive to right field bounced off the top of the wall for a two-run double. Tauchman, who joined Mehrten on the NWL All-Star team, also added a pair of runs.
Benjamin made one of the defensive plays of the year, diving to his backhand side to glove Jordan Hankins’ grounder before popping up to gun Hankins down at first to end the fourth inning.
“That was a huge pick-me-up,” Wade said.
Wagner (0-2) took the loss for Boise (15-9) which lost a chance to gain ground on Salem-Keizer (15-9), which lost 6-1 in Vancouver.
Tri-City (8-15) gained ground on Spokane (12-10) in the North Division, pulling to within four games with 15 remaining in the regular season.
Notes: Today’s starting pitchers will be Tri-City RHP Antonio Senzatela (1-3, 3.81 ERA) going against Boise RHP Paul Blackburn (1-2, 3.09 ERA). ... Dust Devils alumni update: LHP Ben Alsup (2011) scattered six hits and struck out eight, allowing one unearned run over eight innings for the Modesto Nuts in a 3-1 California League win over visiting Bakersfield.